Teaching, Self-Care, and Reflective Practice during a Pandemic

Teaching, Self-Care, and Reflective Practice during a Pandemic

By Rachel Vanderhill and Courtney Dorroll, Wofford College

Political science courses often address difficult topics that can take an emotional and psychological toll on students, including burnout, compassion fatigue, and vicarious traumatization. There is a growing awareness of the importance of reflective and self-care practices in teaching, especially considering the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on student mental health. However, this is a rarely discussed topic in political science. This article discusses the results of our pedagogical research on the emotional impact of learning about atrocities, the challenges of studying during a global pandemic, and the benefits of self-care activities (e.g., meditation) for student well-being. Our research is based on two different courses and includes student self-reflections and our analysis of class discussions. We conclude that our students struggle with the emotional costs of studying difficult topics (especially during the pandemic) and are receptive to doing self-care activities and find them beneficial for their mental health.

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